“Watched Him Drop Like a Ton of Bricks”

Saturday at the Maryland State Fair (Timonium), 5-year-old Lagi Lagi “pulled up lame” in the 3rd race and was subsequently “vanned off” (Equibase). Tuesday, I received this email from an eyewitness at the track:

“I watched the race and then went to get in my car with my children and I saw [Lagi Lagi] get trailered off and they drove right past me and backed up to what I now know is the “death pit” and bam he was dead just like that. I heard and watched him drop like a ton of bricks. I was literally 25 feet away with my two daughters. I’m still devastated and think I always will be. So will my children. The poor horse was dripping sweat. No one shed a tear for him. Just disposed of like trash.”

This is horseracing.

41 Comments

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  1. People who do or take part in anything to do with these races are downright murderers! Just what makes them think that animals are less important because they don’t have an IQ like humans. Would you do something like this to a child who was born severely mentally disabled?!

  2. I grew up with horse racing. I love horses more than life itself. If I stop watching the sport today, I know the horses will still be running tomorrow. It’s a thin line between beauty and hideousness. Most horses at the top level are treated well because they are valuable investments. Other horses, not so lucky to be as talented and famous are not treated as well. There are decent owners and bad owners, the horses are at their mercy. If no one cared, if no one watching the sport defended the ponies, how much worse would it be? Fans recently “rescued” a thoroughbred on Craig’s List. We rallied to have the horse donated to Old Friends retirement. God only knows what his fate would have been otherwise. I always have guilt feelings about being a fan of racing. I know the dark side of it. I wish I could magically make it right for all the horses. I cry every day for the unfortunate ones. Horse slaughter encompasses all equines, wild horses, unwanted horses, and yes, unsuccessful thoroughbreds. How can it be stopped? I’ve fought it for years via pushing our representatives in political circles. Yet it continues. There are people who actually steal horses and butcher them while they are still alive. Black market horse meat is an epidemic right here in America. Horse racing knows that these ponies are being raced too young and that drugs are contributing to brittle bones and break downs, but greed trumps doing the right thing. I can only pray for change, and continue to advocate for the equine heroes who sacrifice their lives for the sport. Thank you for dedicating this site to those brave, gallant souls.

    • You have expressed my own feelings very well. I think many people in racing are torn, we are just out numbered. I have owned and trained a few racehorses. None of them died or broke down, It is strictly a hobby and I do not make my living doing it. Racing could be good, but truthfully anything where money and winning is involved has a dark side, unfortunately for any animals involved. I do feel some people on this site are a little too fanatically obsessed. Anyone who eats the carcasses of poor chickens and pigs, who suffer terribly before (and for chickens, during) slaughter and then protests racing, to me, is a hypocrite. ALL animals are sentient beings. All animals want to live. If anyone eats beef they should not complain about 2-year-olds racing, as the beef you eat was often less than or just barely a year old, Pigs are smarter than dogs and make great pets. Cows are very affectionate with each other, and with people they like. More so than horses. And in all honesty, though I absolutely abhor the abuse of horses with drugs, whips, and all of it, all trainers are not bad, and some owners keep their horses for life. I personally have rescued over 12 horses – those who complain so bitterly on this and other forums – what are you actually doing to help? It is easy to sit and say “how awful!!” But it helps not a single horse and certainly isn’t going to stop racing.

      • Hi there. I just want you to know whatever I write here is not meant to be offensive in anyway. Just voicing my opinion. I am trying very hard to become a vegetarian because to some extent I do feel the same way as you do. But I don’t think you can compare racing to eating beef. as long as the animal is hiumanely killed coz a lot of people believe that cows and goats etc have been put on this earth for food for humans and other animals. It’s the circle of life I guess to some. But racing and all these equine sports are something that we force these poor animals to do. It’s to suit our stupid selfish disgusting needs. Gambling, entertainment etc. We have used these animals as well as many others and have made them our slaves and continue to do so. It never ends. I rescue as many animals as I can but I’m not in any kind of financial situation to rescue another horse. Ivy reading your comment it felt like you were judging some of the people and you don’t even know their situation. Some people try to share how they feel and maybe hope that it will bring about change maybe coz they can’t help in any other way and the. There are some people like you who have rescued 12 horses and that’s great. But it’s just kinda unfair for all of us to be judgemental. We just have to be on the same pg and try to stop this disgusting human behavior in whatever way we can.

      • I am not a vegetarian. I eat very little meat, but cannot go without it. I have had to come to terms with that, as I do believe all animals deserve to live. But it is nature’s way that some animals eat other animals. And we, though we like to pretend we are so very different, are animals. But to justify eating beef because they are raised to be eaten – that is the EXACT same excuse given for racing horses. They were raised to race. And beef cattle do not necessarily live a great life. Chickens are tortured almost every day of their lives, as are pigs. The fact is humans feel we own the earth and everything on it. I don’t, but the majority do. Anyone who justifies eating meat using the reason you used, is a hypocrite, deluding themselves that one animal is different than another, so they can use it as they wish. Racing is not the problem – PEOPLE are the problem. People who can justify killing and abusing animals for their own purposes, be it racing or eating.

      • There is a dark side of nearly every aspect of life, especially when it comes to animals. It all falls back on human beings, many people are good and many people are not. I didn’t choose horse racing, it was part of my life growing up. I learned to love it along with the horses. It can be beautiful, the history of the sport is colorful and rich. Healthy sound thoroughbreds enjoy running. The quality of their life depends on their owners, as with all animals. If they are treated well and properly cared for, it’s not cruel. Killing millions of healthy pets in shelters across the nation is cruel. Our meat industry is cruel. I don’t expect you to understand. The horses are my heroes, As a small child, Superman was not my hero, Man O’ War was. Again, you wouldn’t understand. It’s complicated. At times, I struggle to understand myself. Without watchful eyes, without fans who love the horses, without advocates, it would be far worse.

      • Another good post. When my horses raced, it was like watching my child in the Olympics. Horses tell you if they hate racing. if they are anxious and prancing, don’t want to go in the gate, are excited prior to race time and not relaxed, then they are stressed. My horses were so relaxed that when my oldest son was 3 he could sit on one while we waited to be called over. My horses lived most of their life away from the track, only going to race. They had turnout and they were genuinely loved and cared for – not like a car or other object.

        Like all animal related problems, as you say, it boils down to people. .And people cannot be fixed from what I have seen.

  3. To think that CHILDREN with a parent witnessed such an abhorrent act! I just hope to God that this horse was well and truly dead (dripping sweat?) before dropped. Or, was the actual dropping of this 400-450kg animal that finished him off? I think it was Aimee who recently posted that she had seen a filly screaming and was dumped when still alive in the horse pit at another track! This is just too awful for words and no, this parent will never forget it and I pray for the children.
    There needs to be an official Inquiry into this sickening act having occurred in full view of children with a parent. Even if the horse was dead it is still totally unacceptable, obviously they don’t care if people are around to see this. Certain persons, the racetrack and the relevant Racing Commission should be brought to account.
    What more evidence does one need to prove that the racing industry discards the horses (that they protest they love so much) like a piece of garbage. Just like when you fill up your trailer with household rubbish, drive to the tip and dump it in the rubbish pit! That old vase you don’t want anymore smashes to bits when dropped – LAGI LAGI was a voiceless, helpless noble horse that racing didn’t want anymore…….

    According to equibase.com, connections as of last start for LAGI LAGI were
    JOCKEY: Darius Thorpe
    TRAINER: Willie J Kee
    OWNER: Kavita Springs Racing Stable
    BREEDER: Marilyn Doetsch
    49 starts: 4-5-3 for $66,909

    This 5 year old gelding began racing at 2 years of age and 47 of his starts were in the insidious claiming races. He was up for grabs in his final race for $4,000 and his recent form appears poor “no factor” and Chart states he pulled up lame and was vanned off. Well I query that he was just lame if he was swiftly disposed of as he was.
    If it wasn’t a more serious injury (no transparency/disclosure) then was he disposed of because he was no longer a viable commodity? I’ve seen a trainer put a horse on a kill truck when all that horse needed was some professional veterinarian treatment and six months lay-off. Nope, finished with, no longer viable.

    I am just so very very sorry that the witness to this sickening act was a parent with CHILDREN.

    • Rotten, greedy owners, dishonest veterinarians, and insurance policies. Does that sum it up for you? If we can fix people, we can solve the problems and save the horses. Too bad it’s not that easy to do.

    • He was killed there. He was either shot or euthanized in there. I heard a cap noise and saw his ears disappear and then like I said , I heard him drop like a ton of bricks. It all happened so quickly. It’s a small enclosure surrounded by a picket fence . Not sure what the inside looks like but it sounded like ply wood that he fell on. He was dripping sweat because he came directly off the track to the area he died in. It’s not really a pit. That’s what they are referred to as I’ve learned. If it was a pit then I think the trucks that pick them up would have issues. So gross to have to even think about it. Sorry for not being more clear with my original post.

      • Sounds like he was shot – a bullet is a lot cheaper than getting a vet to euthanase and an injection is silent.
        Horses often panic making a clean shot impossible. Many are clumsily shot three and four times before the deed is done. The horses are fully conscious and suffer close-range unskilled shooting. To do it properly you do it from behind the horse, point the gun behind its poll close and just below its near (left) ear, and you have to do it at a certain angle, so that the bullet goes straight through the horse’s brain.
        And often the shooter doesn’t bother to make sure the horse is truly dead leaving the horse half dead half alive……

        No need to apologise – thank you for speaking up for LAGI LAGI and exposing this atrocity.

    • A horse “pit” is not a hole in the ground. It is a fenced in and closed off area. You don’t shove a horse off the side of a mountain, for crying out loud. The horse was euthanized (100 Mls of euthanasia solution via his jugular vein) in “the pit” and fell loudly to the ground because he was dead… And at Timonium unfortunately the “pit” is nowhere near as appropriately sheltered as anywhere else (a fault of the track itself).

  4. I was the one who witnessed it and I’d love to know that same answer, was he in such bad shape that he couldn’t be fixed ? He was kicking in the trailer as they backed up to the pit. Makes me think he could still use all four legs but I could be wrong. I just wish I would of known what was happening. I would of begged them to give him to me. I would of done anything to save him from such an awful life. No horse deserves to die that way. I know horses break down and unfortunately that’s the way it is in racing for now but this guy was given no dignity. I honestly don’t think it was that bad of an injury. He jumped up onto the step up trailer and hopped off. Not that this is important but he had good breeding . His original owner would of probably taken him back had they known.

    • Though it is definitely not right, this is how injuries are viewed – I took in a TB mare in 2012, not that I needed another horse, but her story was very compelling and reveals how even vets view horses. The mare had raced since she was 2, when she was 5 her current owner went in partnership on her. She noticed that one of the mare’s legs would swell after every work. The first time the horse was going to race under the partnership, it was scratched by the vet at the gate. The trainer had been saying that the swelling was nothing. Now the owner took it to Hagyard to be diagnosed. The vet told her that the mare had chips in her ankle and a fractured sesamoid. BUT, it wasn’t worth doing surgery because she was racing at a low level, and most likely wouldn’t earn enough $$. I was horrified to hear it!!! It clearly is not about the horse even at the veterinary level.. Well, the owner asked if the horse was in pain and the vet said yes. So the owner had the surgery done. The next spring she was trying to find a home for the mare, and found me. I have since learned that horse vets feel their job is to make the horse useful to the owner – that is why they will hide lameness with joint injections, knowing full well the joint will continue to deteriorate – but it is all about the person being able to ride, or otherwise USE, the horse. So it is not just racing that views the horse as an object.

    • Witness

      So he was thrown into the horse pit ALIVE!

      Can i suggest that you lodge a formal complaint in writing to the Timonium racetrack, the Maryland Racing Commission, The Jockey Club and PETA. The Humane Society of the USA is in cahoots with the racing industry so they wouldn’t be interested. https://horseracingwrongs.com/2015/07/23/jo-anne-normile-on-the-hsus-position-on-racing/#comments

      The original owner parted company confirming they no longer care about the animal (just a commodity) and are fully aware that the horse will end up either breaking down or trucked off to the slaughterhouse. Only about 10% of ex racehorses end up having a decent retirement. And if dumping injured distressed horses whilst still alive into a pit to die is what they do in racing (it does not happen where I am, thank God) then the people in racing know about it, accept it and encourage it, otherwise it would be outlawed.

      The people in racing, whether it be breeders, owners, trainers, vets, officials, etc. KNOW what goes on with these horses – they’re in it for the money and egos, it’s as simple as that.

      • No he was euthanized in the “pit”. Sorry for the confusion. I would of never left had he been alive ! It’s actually not a pit either. It’s a small area enclosed by a crappy little picket fence (that you can see over btw).

      • Thank you Witness for this clarification. LAGI LAGI would’ve smelt what was around him, he was injured and his profuse sweating would’ve indicated his ABSOLUTE TERROR. Thoroughbreds are very intelligent and acutely aware of what is going on around them.

        Of course i retract him being thrown in alive. But, the remainder of my comment stands.

        Again, i’m so sorry that you and your two daughters (children) witnessed this abhorrent treatment of this noble horse.

        JUSTIFY THIS racing! which self-regulated industry sustained by the public consists of breeders (both large and small operations) owners, trainers (including “hobby” trainers/owners – yes, I came across plenty of them), vets (who obviously do not abide by their oath to cause no harm to an animal), jockeys, trackwork riders, strappers, stablehands, stewards, racing officials, racing commissions, the Jockey Club and others,
        YOU are all RACING and you are responsible for the welfare of the racehorse and you have a duty of care, each and every single one of you!

      • I think you should contact the folks at Timonium and express your concerns. I would be surprised if they killed a horse with a means other than chemical euthanasia. I know it doesn’t make the loss of Lagi Lagi any less difficult to take, but understanding the process of euthanasia might ease part of your concern. When a horse, dog, or cat is euthanized with approved drugs (which is like an overdose of anesthesia,) they first lose consciousness, then stop breathing, then their heart stops. This happens very quickly, within seconds of the drug entering the bloodstream. By the time the horse falls, he or she is no longer conscious, though may still have some muscle activity. It is a horrifying thing to see, even when the death is not due to such tragic circumstances.

    • Witness,

      It is a crying shame that these TB’s are given no dignity, even in their death; coldly dropping them into a pit like a piece of trash is unacceptable and horrendous.

      I am so sorry that your children witnessed such an abhorrent scene. It is heartbreaking and I am sure will stay with them forever.

      These TB’s are treated with no humanity from the day they are born, they are bred to make money, and forever enslaved. My heart breaks for every fallen beautiful baby, and they are acutely aware of what is going on around them. The terror they feel is inconceivable. It is times like this that I am most ashamed to call myself human, as humans continue to ravage, and take their lives needlessly.

      Marlene Thornley

      • I agree. I work with horses as a professional trimmer, and of course I have 12 of my own. There are many times when I have apologized to horses for how they are treated. Horses are so sensitive and so simple to make happy. They ask for so little, and don’t even get that much of the time.

    • He fractured his leg in multiple places… Potentially he could have been “saved”, however he would have endured surgery, likely infection, lots of pain and eventually laminitis. It was far more humane to put him down. I had my eye on this horse post-career and many friends did as well, however keeping him alive would have been very expensive and likely to no avail as he would have suffered more than he deserved.

      • And he already suffered more than he deserved…he lived his life enslaved, earning money from HIS labors for his connections. They padded their pocketbooks and Lagi Lagi lost his life. Disgusting and unnecessary.

      • Sommer – you allege that LAGI LAGI “fractured his leg in multiple places” there is no evidence of this, (interesting that there could not have possibly been time to do x-rays). Let’s be realistic here, the money it would cost, if it was at all possible to save him, would not be a consideration for his connections. If it was “multiple fractures” then surgery, etc, as you described would not be an option. The euthanasia of LL was inhumane because he had not been sedated first. The Witness’s description of this incident, a parent just 25 metres away with his 2 children daughters, speaks for itself don’t you think?

        LAGI LAGI, according to equibase.com, had 49 starts for $66,909 and he was a 5 year old gelding, as if his owners/trainer would consider trying to “save” him as you put it when he was nearing the end of his career and his earnings were modest. You appear to be justifying the abhorrent destruction of this racehorse when in fact the “use” of this horse by the racing industry undeniably caused his sickening death.

        The Chart said that LL was “lame and vanned off”. Another example of the hidden deaths and if it wasn’t for Witness, LL’s death would not have been revealed.

        LAGI LAGI was described by Witness as being in a distressed state, he was kicking out in the trailer and “He jumped up onto the step up trailer and hopped off” MULTIPLE FRACTURES Sommer? and he was “dripping sweat”. And as I have previously commented LL would’ve smelt what’s gone on in that pit in the past, he was fully aware of his environment, would’ve been in terrible pain and was at the mercy of these despicable people.

        Sommer, you are trying to justify the unjustifiable!

  5. I am shedding tears…for Lagi Lagi & for each & every one, at the race track, in the show ring, in hideous “stampede” competitions, for the cruelty suffered by TN Walkers, for our wild horses rounded up……for the slaughter of all including the “backyard” breds who die from starvation & owner ignorance. I have tears in every direction.

  6. If people love to watch horse race maybe you all should watch some documentaries on what horses really like to do and then make a decision on racing. We need to give back to them not keep taking. It’s time we human beings stopped this domestication of all these beautiful creature. Yes, far fetched but when you believe in something it’s easier to make it happen.

  7. Why is it even Legal to make these young horses start training and racing when the bones and bodies haven’t completely developed. I know why ….greedy human beings!!!!!

  8. Tony, the point here is that this horse, according to equibase.com, was vanned off because it was LAME.
    You don’t kill a horse because it is LAME! And as Witness said “I honestly don’t think it was that bad of an injury. He JUMPED UP onto the step up trailer and HOPPED OFF”. ‘He was KICKING in the trailer as they backed up to the pit.”
    If he had a serious injury in one of his legs, he would not be kicking out because he would be doing everything to keep himself upright on three legs, trying to balance and carry his approx. 450kg weight.
    They murdered this horse, it’s as simple as that!

    I disagree with you when you state “…….. within seconds of the drug entering the bloodstream”. It takes at least 2 minutes and the ones I’ve witnessed have taken at least 4 minutes and as for the botch up jobs, well…….! The actual injecting procedure itself of an overdose of pentobarbital sodium takes about 47 seconds, and then, the time taken for the horse to be brain dead ranges between 73 and 261 seconds.

    • I was not approving of the horse’s euthanasia, merely pointing out that euthanasia of any horse, under almost any circumstance, is a very difficult thing to witness. I understated the time it takes for the injection to produce a loss of consciousness, you are correct in that it takes closer to a minute or two, considering that the injection itself takes about a minute under ideal circumstances. My point is that no matter why a horse is being euthanized, it is always a sad sight to see them drop.

      • Yes, it can certainly be horrific, some horses fight the drug and have had that happen. I will never euthanize a horse again without making sure the horse gets a tranquilizer first. It makes all the difference, the only hard thing to see then is the horse falling. But they do not struggle and die quickly.

  9. Yes, Maureen….ALWAYS sedate first. ALWAYS. A euthanasia without it is not a good death! And do we think euthanasias done at the track are done the correct way?…heavy sedation first then the overdose of the “general anesthesia med” that stops their heart? That would costs dollars more!

    • Some vets. will euthanize an animal without sedating first. I always demand they be sedated. It is bad enough to be faced with the death of one’s animal and then not to have it done properly is too much. Years ago I was faced with euthanizing my 15 year golden and the vet. did not sedate her. Thank God I was there to hold her and try to comfort her as she struggled. I learned the hard way. Needless to say I never went back to that clinic and let the vet. know I was very upset with him. Also, I spread the word concerning what happened.

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